09/05/2003 12:00AM

The 'other' statebred gets his due


ELMONT, N.Y. - A New York-bred who has been somewhat overlooked this summer during all the Funny Cide hoopla is Whitmore's Conn, who won back-to-back graded stakes in July and August.

Whitmore's Conn, owned by Michael Shanley and his wife, Lyn, won his first Grade 1 in the Sword Dancer Handicap at Saratoga Race Course on Aug. 9. In his prior start on July 12, the 5-year-old won the Grade 2 Bowling Green Handicap at Belmont Park for the second year in a row.

In 27 career starts, Whitmore's Conn has a 7-4-5 record and has won $740,426. Additionally, Whit-more's Conn has earned the Shanleys $50,522 in owner awards, a bonus which is paid by the New York State Thoroughbred Breeding and Development Fund based on a horse's performances in open-company races in New York.

Whitmore's Conn's wins in the Sword Dancer, where he was 25-1, and the Bowling Green, where he was 12-1, have vaulted him to the top of the New York-bred turf male division. He had the opportunity to add another Grade 1 to his r?sum? on Saturday when he was scheduled to run in the $500,000 Man o' War at Belmont.

Like Funny Cide, Whitmore's Conn, a son of Kris S., was born at McMahon of Saratoga Thoroughbreds. The Shanleys, who live in Albany, N.Y., privately purchased Whitmore's Conn when he was a 2-year-old from bloodstock agent Mike Ryan. The year before, Ryan acquired the horse for $150,000 at the Fasig-Tipton Kentucky July yearling sale.

Whitmore's Conn's breeders are Bud Wolf, a resident of Saratoga Springs, and Joe D'Agostino. Wolf purchased Whitmore's Conn's dam, Albonita, for $80,000 from the Atwood Richards dispersal at Keeneland's November sale in 1997. At the time of her purchase, Albonita was carrying Whitmore's Conn.

Wolf later sold his share in Albonita to D'Agostino, and the mare died in 2001. A younger half-sister to Whitmore's Conn, Tiva's Little Sis, won the Chapel Belle Stakes on the turf at Louisiana Downs seven days before Whitmore's Conn won the Sword Dancer.

Wolf, who is retired, is still active as a breeder. He owns four mares and one weanling and boards them at Morningside Farm in Ballston Spa, N.Y. Wolf said it was a tremendous feeling when Whitmore's Conn unleashed his strong closing kick down the stretch to win the 1 1/2-mile race by 1 1/4 lengths.

"Winning a Grade 1 is the epitome of breeding," Wolf said. "It's an absolutely wonderful feeling."

Before Whitmore's Conn came along, the Shanleys enjoyed success with another top turf horse, Turk Passer. Trained by Hall of Famer Scotty Schulhofer, Turk Passer won the Bowling Green in 1994 and Grade 1 Turf Classic in 1995. Up until his retirement from training late in 2001, Schulhofer was Whitmore's Conn's trainer. At that time, Schulhofer's son and assistant, Randy, became the Shanleys' trainer.

What makes Whitmore's Conn particularly special to the Shanleys is that the horse's name is a combination of the maiden names of Michael's and Lyn's mothers. Michael's mother, who is 79 and lives in Florida, was named Whitmore. Lyn's 94-year-old mother, who lives in Iowa, was named Conn before she married.

Both the women cheered on their namesake while watching an ESPN telecast of the Sword Dancer. Shanley said he had been warned by Lemon Drop Kid's owner, Jeanne Vance, that naming a horse for a family member or a friend doesn't always work out for the best.

"This really couldn't have worked out any better," Shanley, 56, said. "It really is as good as it gets when you win a race like the Sword Dancer with a horse named after your mothers."

The Shanleys have four other horses in training. Whitmore's Conn is the only New York-bred in the bunch, but the couple expect to add more to their stable in the near future.

The Shanleys own a New York-bred mare, Dana's Wedding, who foaled a New York-bred Rodeo colt this year at Sugar Maple Farm in Poughquag. The Shanleys sold Dana's Wedding's A.P Jet yearling colt at auction this year, but they intend to keep the Rodeo colt to race.

Michael Shanley, an attorney and partner in Pyramid Company, a real estate group that operates several large shopping malls in the Northeast, said he is interested in buying horses at the 12-day Keeneland yearling sale that begins Monday. He isn't specifically scouting New York-breds, but he wouldn't turn one down if the circumstances were right.

"I'm looking for the right horse," Shanley said. "If it's is a New York-bred, it's a bonus."

Shanley certainly wouldn't go wrong if he found another Whitmore's Conn.